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Appalachian Trail in Georgia
Georgia Trails

Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail begins in Georgia at Springer Mountain and leaves the Peach State 79 miles later at Bly Gap. The rugged, often rocky terrain reaches a height of more than 4400 feet and never dips below 2500 feet. The high point of the trail is at Blood Mountain (4,461 ft.) while the low point is Dicks Creek Gap (2,675 ft.) Access to the beginning of the Appalachian Trail is by foot from Amicalola Falls State Park.

History of the Appalachian Trail

Springer Mountain sign
The conservation movement in America was launched from Teddy Roosevelt's "Bully Pulpit" shortly after the turn of the 20th century. In the northeast numerous proposals had been made prior to 1921 to create a "super" trail.

"An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning" by Benton MacKaye was published in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects in October of 1921. The original proposal was for a footpath to run from the highest point in the northern Appalachians(Mt. Washington, New Hampshire) to the highest point in the southern Appalachians(Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina). Within a year work began on "America's Footpath." First completed was the section that ran from Pennsylvania to Connecticut across the new Bear Mountain Bridge.

By 1925 the dream began to move towards reality with the creation of the Appalachian Trail Conference. The proposed route was extended to run from Maine to Georgia, originally to "Cohutta" Mountain. Since little was known by the developers about the North Georgia mountains they planned the trail from maps. Roy Ozmer, woodsman and friend of Georgia Ranger Arthur Woody was put in charge of exploring the area from Virginia to Georgia. These men felt that Mount Oglethorpe, east of Jasper, was a better choice for the end of the Appalachian Trail.

Once the route in Georgia from Bly Gap to Mount Oglethorpe was established, Woody assisted personally and assigned Forest Service employees to assist in the construction which was completed in 1931. In 1937 the trail was completed with the clearing of the last 2 miles between Spaulding and Sugarloaf Mountains in Maine. At the time the trail stretched from Mount Katahdin in Maine's Baxter State Park to Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia. The trail, as envisioned, was a "sky-line" trail, going from high-point to high-point, along the highest route available.

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During the next few years the trail fell into disrepair because of hurricanes, war and neglect. In 1938 a hurricane that swept up the coast did heavy damage to America's "First Trail." The connection of the Skyline Drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the 1940's displaced a section of the trail 120 miles long. Slowly, portions of the trail were being reclaimed by nature.

In the early 1950's interest renewed in the trail. The designation of the Appalachian Trail as a National Scenic Trail was a long political battle lasting 15 years, ending with President Lyndon Johnson signing the National Trails System Act in 1968. This act, originally intended to protect the land near the Appalachian Trail was rewritten to include any footpath designated as a National Scenic Trail. Today "America's Trail" and others in the National Scenic Trail System, with few exceptions, are on land that is federally protected.

Overview of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia

Sunset on the Appalachian Trail
Sunset on the Appalachian Trail
From its start 8 miles north of popular Amicalola Falls on Springer Mountain, the Appalachian Trail winds north past mountains with names like Blood, Trey and Big Cedar and through gaps named Addis, Neels and Woody. Snow is not uncommon on the Trail beginning in October and cold weather is a concern through April. Late fall is hunting season, so special care must be taken during that time.

The trail is a microcosm of the natural history of the North Georgia mountains. It follows the high eastern ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. Much of the trail is covered with snow in the winter. Spring melts give way to many of the wildflowers common throughout the mountains including bloodroot, trillium, and azalea. Laurel and rhododendron "hells" bloom in the early summer and cover much of the clear areas of the trails. Forests are mostly second-growth hardwood with hickory, oak and poplar dominating.

White rectangular blazes mark the trail over the entire 2100 miles from Georgia to Maine. Turns are marked with double blazes and side trails and approaches use blue.

More Information

Georgia Appalachian Trail Sections and Access

For information on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia call the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce at 1.800.899.MTNS

- or - Contact the Appalachian Trail Conference, P.O. Box 807, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, (304) 535-6331, email:Appalachian Trail Conference

Georgia Trails Features
Feature articles from Georgia Trails

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Amicalola Falls
Amicalola Falls State Park
Arthur Woody
Georgia Appalachian Trail Sections and Access
National Trails System Act

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